That’s the Way It’s Supposed to Be!

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Our church’s small sign at the corner of Highway 119 and Stilson Leefield Road was in sad shape. The paint was peeling terribly and even some of the wood had chipped away. It didn’t present a very inviting picture for folks looking for the church.

So, the sign company was called and scheduled to come get the sign and repair and paint it. Somewhere communication was mixed, and they not only removed the small sign and took it with them, but they also took a larger one that stands at the corner just up the road from the church.

As we remembered it, (since it was now gone) the larger one looked pretty good and there was some question whether we needed to spend the money to have it painted. But by the time that     conversation was held, it was too late. One of those “I thought you told them to take it. No, I figured you must have told them to take it” conversations.

The signs were fixed, painted and reinstalled. The small one in Stilson, as expected, looked fantastic. It had been obviously bad. And the bigger one near the church? It looked fantastic, too. My reaction was “Wow! It sure needed painting, too, but I didn’t notice! This is the way it’s supposed to look.”

We grow used to having things a bit less than they’re supposed to be.

We knew the piano needed tuning and mentioned it now and then when a note sounded a bit off. Even put it on the list to send an email and schedule the piano tech guy to come and tune it. But it didn’t seem that bad.

Eventually the tech guy was scheduled, and he came out and tuned the piano. I was messing around in the sound booth at the back of the sanctuary as he tinked high notes here and there on the keyboard, and poked low notes for about thirty minutes.

Then I heard him say to himself, “OK” and he strongly played and held a many-noted chord and let it resound throughout the sanctuary. The goosebumps formed on my neck and arms and I had to say “Wow! That’s the way it’s supposed to sound.” He simply replied, “that’s good” and   started packing up his stuff. It had been more in need of tuning than I thought.

We grow used to having things a bit less than they’re supposed to be.

Anytime I discuss having an asparagus garden in the backyard, I always get in the                description that when you cut some spears, take them inside, cook them and take a bite, the          reaction is “Wow, that’s the way it’s supposed to taste.” Canned or frozen asparagus isn’t close. Even what you get in the grocery store or from a produce stand isn’t the same.

We grow used to having things a bit less than they’re supposed to be.

The Book of Revelation includes a letter Jesus wrote to the church at Ephesus. He             commended the church for its diligence, labors, patience and holding to the truth. But, then in verse 2:4 Jesus says, “But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.”  With that statement we have to examine whether the “you” in his words is referring to “us.”

He then says for us to do what we used to do – love how we used to love. Get excited about Jesus and tell someone about Him. Get excited about our church and invite someone to come (or better yet, bring somebody with you.)  Go out of our way to find those in need and joyfully lend a helping hand, in Jesus’ name. And, as we love as we did at first, we will say:

“Wow, I remember! That’s the way it’s supposed to feel!”

We grow used to having things a bit less than they’re supposed to be.

Contemplation

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOn a whim, I bought two baskets and a small box for $2 at the auction. Didn’t need any of them but figured the   flower shop in Brooklet could probably use the baskets. The box was a neat little miniature crate with a butterfly painted on one of the slats. I wasn’t sure what I’d do with it.

As the auction continued, a family came in and sat next to me in the pew (yes, this one has old pews as part of the seating). They had a daughter, probably eight years old, with them. Later, as I was leaving, I asked the mother if the young girl might like the box (the girl was at the snack bar). The mother said sure and took it and thanked me.

While I was checking out at the register, the little girl’s grandmother walked by and stopped to talk with me. The grandmother said the girl loved the box. She also said that her (the grandmother’s) friend had died the previous week of breast cancer and they had released butterflies in her honor. The butterfly on the box reminded her of that and she said it was a great blessing to her. I looked over at the little girl and she was sitting in the pew with her new box in her lap and her bag of       popcorn handily placed in it. I was feeling pretty good.

I went to the grocery store the next day and as I turned in one aisle, I saw an older man at the other end of the aisle trying to get a plastic container from the shelf. He had dropped several of them and was putting them back up. I headed that way but by the time I got there he had things arranged and one container in the buggy (for some reason he wanted one from the middle of the stack). I asked him if I could help and we talked a minute. It was obvious some of the confusion that comes as we get older was there. I made sure he was ok and headed to the next aisle. I was feeling pretty good.

I finished shopping, loaded the groceries in the truck and headed out of the parking lot. I wasn’t paying attention and pulled behind a car trying to turn left onto the busy street. (I usually go some other way if I see that happening). I sat and sat and sat (and got aggravated and more aggravated) as cars came by from both directions and several opportunities for the car in front to exit came and went. Finally, it was very clear from both ways and nothing happened. I honked the horn. The driver hesitantly pulled out and as his head turned, I recognized it was the confused man with the plastic containers. I wasn’t feeling very good.

I know it was the Holy Spirit that led me to give the box to the little girl and to try to help the man. In reflecting on those situations, I remember there was a feeling of thankfulness to the Lord for those opportunities. But, also knowing how arrogant I can be, I’m sure there was some pride in the mix, too.

So, the Lord let me go my own way and showed me where I would go when not paying attention to His leading. But, as God’s lesson convicted my heart, I realized in true thankfulness that He had not stopped leading and loving me. Yes, His love endures forever!         1 Cor. 10:12 “Wherefore let him that thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.”

 

It’s a New Year – Kinda Foggy? Consider This.

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We went through a course at work many years ago on Steven Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. One of the habits was: “Begin with the end in mind.” In the postscript, beyond the business aspect, of his book, he explained the life aspect rather starkly. What do you want people saying about you at your funeral? Figure that out and live toward it.

Along those same lines of thought, my Uncle Ivy once told me he had spent a night in his recliner praying and meditating while considering much that same question—what kind of man did he want to be? He concluded that he wanted folks to think of him and say, “Ivy Spivey is always willing to help in any way he can.” (And he always was.)

In another course at work we were required to develop a personal mission statement. I didn’t think a lot about it and just took the Boy Scout Oath as mine. That is a great statement and living by it is certainly a good “mission.”

But, through the years I’ve thought more about my life’s mission, as Steven Covey suggested and as Uncle Ivy did. My latest rendition is:

  1. The only things that really matter in life are God and other people – so live like it. (You may recognize this is a paraphrase of the two great commandments Jesus gave – Love the Lord, and Love your neighbor. I was thankful when I realized that.)
  2. Do the right things – for the right reasons. (It’s obvious The Bible tells us to do the right things and not do the wrong things. But 1st Corinthians chapter 13 (“the love chapter”) makes it clear that without the right motivation, particularly love, doing the right thing means nothing. See also the Sermon on the Mount and what I call the “woe” chapter—Matthew chapter 23)
  3. Pay Attention (If we don’t, we’ll miss opportunities to do the first two. Isaiah chapter 42 mentions looking but not seeing and listening but not hearing.)

I’m not writing those points here because I’m always successful in following them – The older I get, the more I realize how pitiful my results often are. And, I’m not saying you should take them as yours. I’m just suggesting as we go into this New Year, along with making resolutions like eating healthier and exercising, which are still good resolutions, we also spend time in prayer and meditation and, as Jesus said, consider the “weightier matters of…justice, mercy and faithfulness.”  (Matthew 23:23)
Micah 6:8  “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

 

Six Month Checkup

August vegetable garden

Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground, for it is the time to seek the Lord, that he may come and rain righteousness upon you. Hosea 10:12 (Fallow ground – left uncultivated and unproductive)

“Hey, Bill— Didn’t you say six months ago that you were going to retire and break up your fallow ground? How’s it going on that?

Well, it depends. You can see from this photo from earlier this week, that the physical break up, rebuild, renovate of the vegetable garden’s fallow ground has stayed on hold through these six months. Now, it’s too hot these days to get started with a good spray of Roundup and have it be effective. (That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.) This garden hopefully, will rise to the top of the list in the Fall.

But, on the flower garden side of things, the Lord has blessed us with much beauty. Much fallow ground was broken up. I’ve posted a couple of photos on blog posts, and several more on Facebook. The one below is the view from our bedroom window.

On other things, I haven’t done as much writing as I had planned (but, I have done more than I was doing, so that’s progress.) My plans to spend more time with my guitar and banjo are still in their cases, so to speak—but they’re still on the list.

I’ve discovered that what happens to impede progress—is life. Like always, there are planned and unplanned things that come up that divert attention from the to-do list of items mentioned above. Also, now that I’m a bit older, I’ve discovered that just resting and staying out of the heat are needful, too.

But, the fallow ground in the above verse from Hosea isn’t referring to these physical things I’ve mentioned (although, I would hope writing and music could fit in with it). The verse is talking about the more important aspects of life—sowing righteousness, reaping love, and seeking the Lord. I’ve been working on those, too.

I won’t mention specifics. But, there have been successes and wonderful blessings (all by the grace of God), and utter failures of commission and omission (all by the humanity of Bill). I don’t plan to quit trying, but I do get discouraged at times. Then, the Lord sends me a message, like He did through our Pastor the other night. In His preface to our church conference, he talked a bit about Galatians 6:9—
And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”
So, with the Lord’s help, I won’t faint.

Bedroom window view

Break Up Your Fallow Ground – But be careful!

Break Up Your Fallow Ground – But be careful! (Facebook folks, click on the link to see the entire post)

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Here’s some fallow ground that needed breaking up in late winter. Looks like I could just go in and turn over everything and get ready for Spring. But if you look closely you see some things that aren’t weeds. So I had to be careful breaking  up this fallow ground.

This reminded me of Jesus’ Kingdom parable of the Wheat and the Tares (Matthew 13:24-30). There was a field a man planted with good seed (wheat) and at night an enemy came and planted bad seed (tares) in the field. When the field hands saw it (later, when both had grown enough to recognize) they asked the owner if he wanted them to pull the tares up. The owner’s reply was to wait, since pulling up the tares may also pull up the wheat.

While, I had to be careful what to pull up, and pulling some of the weeds actually unrooted a good plant, it was clear enough I could pull the weeds and leave the plants. I’ll leave it to you to study more on Jesus’ parable since it goes deeper than good plants and bad plants. But, I’ll leave a warning that we be careful when breaking up fallow ground – whether physical, spiritual, or relationships. Be sure to look closely for the good and not take it away with the bad.

It’s summer now, and here are the white phlox that were hiding in the weeds.

Phlox in bloom

Break Up Your Fallow Ground – Sometimes it’s OK

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(Fallow Ground – untended and unfruitful)
These Easter Lilies, planted last year, didn’t even get fertilizer this season, but they apparently didn’t mind. Sometimes things go well in spite of our neglect. But, we can’t take that for granted!
Hosea 10:12 needs to be in our mind all the time. “Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy, break up your fallow ground; For it is time to seek the Lord til he comes and rains righteousness upon you.”